By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

INITIALLY did not have her way at the Asia and Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualification Tournament in Amman, Jordan, Filipino flyweight boxer Irish Magno stayed the course and saw it pay off as she booked a spot in the Tokyo Olympic Games later this year.

Ms. Magno, a silver medallist in the last Southeast Asian Games, earned a ticket to the Summer Games after defeating Tajikistan’s Sumaiya Qosimova by unanimous decision in their box-off on Wednesday to claim the last Olympic spot in her division.

It was an impressive bounce back after being relegated to the box-off following her unanimous decision defeat earlier in the qualifiers at the hands of Mary Kom of India.

Knowing that her Olympic aspirations in the Jordan qualifiers hinged on a win in the box-off, Ms. Magno, 28, worked accordingly, dominating her 19-year-old opponent in their contest.

The Filipino was aggressive at the opening bell, connecting on solid shots to dictate the pace.

Ms. Qosimova found her footing in the second frame but Ms. Magno continued to stay on top of things.

In the final round, the veteran fighter sustained her dominance with heavy shots on her opponent on her way to closing out things and booking the Olympic berth.

Following her victory, Ms. Magno shared that key for them was not stopping despite the early setback they had.

“I’m so very happy I made it with help from my coaches and my ABAP (Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines) family. I just listened to my coach. We saw the fight of my opponent … and we studied it and this is the result,” said Ms. Magno immediately after securing her Olympic spot.

With the win, Ms. Magno became the fourth Filipino athlete to book a place in the Tokyo Games, scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 9, joining earlier qualifiers EJ Obiena (athletics/pole vault), Carlos Yulo (gymnastics) and Eumir Felix Marcial (boxing). The latter secured his spot also at the Asia and Oceania qualifiers.

Other Filipino boxers who failed to secure an Olympic spot in Jordan, including world champion Nesthy Petecio, will have another chance of making it to Tokyo at the World Boxing Championships in Paris, France, in May.

Meanwhile, Olympics-bound Marcial made it a double celebration at the Asia and Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualification Tournament as he also bagged the gold in the middleweight division.

Twenty-four-year-old Marcial defeated Abilkhan Amankhul in their gold medal match to partner with his Olympic berth qualification by entering the semifinals.

In the semis, Zamboanga native Marcial overwhelmingly defeated Ashish Kumar of India.

For the Philippines, boxing is traditionally a steady source of athletes in the Olympics. In 2016 in the Rio Games, two boxers competed for the country, namely light flyweight Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Suarez.

Boxing, too, has accounted for five of the total medals won by the Philippines in the Olympics, including two silver care of Anthony Villanueva (1964) and Mansueto Velasco (1996).